Project profile: Shangri La Botanical Gardens
Located on 252 acres in the heart of Orange, Texas, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center serves primarily as an interpretive center for the site's native ecosystems—cypress and tupelo swamp, wooded uplands, and prairie lowlands—as well as a facility for study and research. A program of the Stark Foundation, Shangri La connects visitors of all ages with nature.
The nature center provides hands-on learning opportunities by means of an exhibit called the Nature Discovery Lab, a laboratory, and three outdoor classrooms located deep in the cypress swamp. The Orientation Center includes an exhibit hall, theater, interactive children's garden, classroom and exhibition greenhouses, and a water demonstration garden that shows how plants filter pollution from water. A café, garden store, volunteer center, and administrative spaces are also included.
In September 2005, at the beginning of construction, the Shangri La property sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Rita. Rather than conceding a setback, the team took advantage of the opportunity for salvaging fallen trees and incorporating them into the new facilities or harvesting them for other projects.
(2009 AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects recipient)